Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flying Tiger heritage lives on through air park

by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When the plaque commemorating the President George W. Bush Air Park at Moody Field was unveiled May 20, it was one of the final steps in completing the project.

The air park is dedicated to former President George W. Bush, who spent a year at Moody for pilot training 1968 to 1969.

"I think having a former president here at Moody for pilot training is an important part of our history," said Col. Skip Hinman, 23rd Fighter Group commander. "Before this air park we didn't have much else dedicated to the president or his time at Moody."

The air park uses five aircraft to showcase more than 70 years of Flying Tiger heritage.

"I love the air park," said Colonel Hinman. "The focal point starts at the P-40 Warhawk then continues to show the legacy of the Flying Tigers from the P-40 to the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

"The Flying Tigers have the most visible heritage of any combat aviation unit," he added. "Most people are familiar with the World War II Flying Tigers."

Retired Col. Michael Steven O'Dowd, who was the commander of the 23rd FG before Colonel Hinman, agrees about the history of the Flying Tigers.

"The air park shows the course of Airmen who have deployed in the past 70 years and took on difficult missions," he said. "These Airmen have done amazing things. The Air Force is able to complete its missions because of the great effort by Airmen."

In 2005, the 23rd Wing moved from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to Moody, and prior to that the 23rd WG was assigned to England Air Force Base, La. Both had air parks dedicated to the history of the Flying Tigers.

"In addition to relocating aircraft and personnel, we also gained a legendary heritage," said Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander. "Moody leadership was determined to construct an area that would act as a focal point for the base and encompass the features from the air parks of two previous Flying Tigers bases."

The air park is meant to give Moody Airmen a chance to learn about Moody's heritage and see what Airmen before them did.

"It's like a family tree," said Colonel O'Dowd. "It shows the continuity of the Flying Tigers. The teeth represent something distinctive to the Flying Tigers, a remarkable and unique history."

During the dedication ceremony many distinguished guests spoke about the air park and the Flying Tigers. Retired Col. Clarence S. Parker, 3550th Pilot Training Wing commander from 1968 to 1971, read a letter on behalf of President Bush.

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the air park to President Bush.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A formation of A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft make their way through the skies of Moody during a dedication ceremony for the President George W. Bush Air Park at Moody Field May 20. The A-10 is one of five aircraft displayed at the air park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res


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